FORT STEWART and HUNTER ARMY AIRFIELD, Ga. - Fort Stewart and Hunter Army Airfield Soldiers and Army Civilians gathered in the Main Post Chapel at Fort Stewart and the Hunter Chapel to learn about the State of the Garrison last week.

Fort Stewart
Fort Stewart Soldiers and Army Civilians gathered in the Main Post Chapel to learn about the State of the Garrison from Fort Stewart-Hunter Army Airfield garrison commander, Col. Kevin Milton, April 16.

Topics discussed included the Installation Management Campaign plan, the garrison commander's focus areas, budget constraints, upcoming events, the top 10 installation priorities, the Civilian Education System and a 3rd Infantry Division update.

Colonel Milton said most of Lt. Gen. Rick Lynch's intent for the new Installation Management Campaign is already being done at Stewart-Hunter, noting that we are already a Sustainable Army Community of Excellence.

After detailing the lines of effort for the campaign, which begins this year and continues to 2017, Col. Milton turned his attention to the areas he intends to focus on in the coming months,
He presented two lists of focus areas; one he called his "walnut" list, the other his "almond" list.

His walnut list focuses on the budget, suicide prevention, the Command Climate Assessment, the Comprehensive Soldier Fitness Program and reintegrating the 3rd ID.

Colonel Milton's almond list focuses on schools, planning for the IMCOM commander's upcoming visit, club improvements and how to improve the Alcohol and Substance Abuse Program.

He said he was considering a directive pulling together Medical Department Activity and U.S. Army Garrison functions in order to create a better ASAP metrics for showing how we measure success in the program.

Budget constraints were explained as well. A selective hiring freeze is in effect, and there's a 50 percent reduction in supply purchases, a 50 percent reduction in temporary duty assignments and even 50 percent reduction in cable television. Despite the constraints, he assured everyone garrison will continue to support the Soldier and Families. Colonel Milton said survey results recognized a need for better communication between supervisors and employees, a need for more senior leadership visibility and more opportunities for advancement. Motor pool enhancement and constructing a Marne Admin Law and Tax Center were among the top 10 installation priorities, Col. Milton said.

As an update for the 3rd ID, Col. Milton noted that the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team is currently at the National Training Center and the 3rd Sustainment Brigade is now beginning to deploy. By the end of June, every major command of the 3rd ID will be deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan, with the first units not scheduled to re-deploy until October. The next Stewart State of the Garrison is scheduled for October 7.

Hunter Army Airfield
Hunter Army Airfield Garrison Commander Lt. Col. Jose Aguilar stood at the Hunter Chapel pulpit, April 14 to spread the good news about what's on the horizon for Hunter Army Airfield. The semi-annual garrison brief is usually held at the Hunter Club but switched to the chapel this month to reduce operational costs.

Attendees packed the pews, and a few stood or watched from the balcony, as Lt. Col. Aguilar talked about budget cuts, survey results, updates on the civilian education system and NSPS, upcoming events, programs/projects, top priorities, achievements and best practices and his 10 focus areas of concern.

The garrison commander said that Hunter is already doing what Lt. Gen. Rick Lynch, U.S. Army IMCOM commander, has directed in the Installation Management Campaign Plan. He spoke passionately about the recently conducted garrison survey and the items employees sited for improvement.

"Fear of reprisal," one of those items, "will not be tolerated," the garrison commander said. "All employees will have the opportunity to make complaints without negative consequences."

The survey also revealed that employees want opportunities for job advancement, training and development, and rewards and formal recognition from their leaders. Lieutenant Colonel Aguilar agreed that employees and volunteers should be recognized and said leaders are doing that in venues, such as the volunteer recognition ceremony on April 20.

School zoning and school challenges were also topics of discussion with parents and employees.

"I just moved here," said Nicky Cotton, 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade FRSA. "I didn't know what to expect at this installation; this answered a lot of my questions."

Cotton said she was glad to hear about the second Child Development Center under construction here and the expanded Child and Youth Services for her three children, ages 14, 9 and 1.

"This was a good opportunity for all employees to hear and learn about projects," said Capt. Bill Ward, Hunter Legal Center. "Information that does not apply to one, applies to someone else."

Upcoming events were also discussed, such as children's activities and the performing band for Hunter's first 4th of July celebration. Attendance was encouraged.

"We've squeezed out about $25,000 for the (4th of July) celebration," said Lt. Col. Aguilar. "The event will be fun for everyone and convenient for parents. The night will end with fireworks."

Ten installation planning priorities were projected on PowerPoint slides on an overhead screen. Lieutenant Colonel Aguilar explained that most upcoming construction takes place at Fort Stewart during the next few years; Hunter has already reaped the benefit of massive construction and growth.

Recent and on-going construction that includes Hunter Lanes' grand opening; south post construction that includes Lott's Island upgrades, RV park, Halstom Pond upgrades, a state-of-the-art School Age Children facility, a modular CDC, a new AAFES shoppette, improved Family housing and a new Rio Road Fire Station.

Other projects discussed were the DeRenne Avenue Intersection Option, the CEMA Emergency Operations Center to be built, a new Hunter Chapel, new Combat Aviation Brigade facilities, a new education center and deployment scheduled for Fort Stewart and Hunter Army Airfield service members, including tenant units.

Before closing, Lt. Col. Aguilar fielded questions from the group and pledged to visit reps who raised their hands (and their units) when he asked whom he had not yet met.

To reaffirm his commitment of caring, he told supervisors that he stands ready to visit and hand out awards to any recipient of recognition or awards. He closed by reminding everyone of his open door policy and the importance of communication.